How to spot a violent and abusive partner

2016-12-11 06:03
Gail Masondo

Gail Masondo

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There are telltale signs of violence and certain traits that women can look out for in their partners.

There are things to watch out for to find out if a man is possessive and controlling. For example, if he wants to control what you wear or how you do your hair, or if he wants to know why you are talking to “that” man.

When a woman starts a new relationship, she should watch out for the following signs:

- Is he polite to those around him?

- Does he enjoy being at family events or among friends? A lot of abusers do not want to be around other people – they only want to be with you all the time.

- Is he possessive? How does he speak to you and others? Is he impatient and aggressive?

- Does he belittle you in public? Does he make fun of you, your clothes and your appearance?

- Is he arrogant? How does he treat a waiter or a security guard?

These signs can help a woman identify a potential abuser. A lot of the time, problems start with emotional violence before they become physical. Be wary of men who want to isolate you from everyone else.

I grew up in an abusive home with an alcoholic father. Together with my mother and brother, I suffered physical abuse at the hands of my father. Alcohol played the biggest role in my father’s behaviour.

When he drank, the house became a home of terror, and so when I started my studies, I wanted to understand the effect of this kind of behaviour and look at the effects of the scarring that it creates in the long term.

It is sad that we continue to hear stories of women who have experienced different forms of abuse at the hands of the men in their lives, and it’s worse still when they ignore the abuse because “he loves me”. Let’s be clear: this is not love – love builds you up, it does not tear you down.

There is also the perception that emotional abuse, light forms of violence such as pulling a woman’s hair, and obsessive behaviour and a sense of ownership of a woman by her partner is okay, but these are behavioural traits that eventually lead to worse forms of violence.

The challenge that we have nowadays is that we are losing our appreciation of elders and their valuable advice, and so young people are marrying the wrong people because they meet these men and don’t introduce them to their families and friends until it’s too late.

We need to bring back the role that elders play in really seeing who a person is, and identify role models who will give honest feedback on what they think of this new person a woman wants in her life.

While I am not a cheerleader of sharing one’s personal life with girlfriends and shaming men in public, it’s important that women have at least one person they can share their problems with outside of their marriage because it can get a little cloudy in there, and someone else may be able to help put things into perspective.

Masondo is a behavioural specialist, psychologist and author

Read more on:    16 days of activism  |  abuse

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